Archive for the ‘Tax Fraud’ Category

Would the Proprietors of “I Married an Idiot” Commit Tax Fraud?

Thursday, November 20th, 2014

Sometimes you can’t make this stuff up.

Perhaps you missed the website imarriedanidiot.com. The website is down, but thanks to the Internet Archive it will continue to be accessible. I’ll leave it to the reader to peruse the web site.

I saw a brief story on Mark Garcia and Patricia McQuarry in the Pioneer Press. It seems that they not only thought they married an idiot, they committed an idiotic form of tax fraud.

The couple, who are married and were the proprietors of the aforementioned web site, decided to claim to have received “…hundreds of thousands of dollars in 1099-OID income and that the entire amount had been withheld and paid over to the IRS on their behalf.” The couple even put down real bank tax identification numbers on their phony paperwork. Unfortunately, the IRS didn’t detect the fraud until after the fact. Yet it was certain that sooner or later the IRS would find the fraud given that the IRS document matching system wouldn’t match their phony paperwork to real 1099s.

One good fraud deserves another, so the couple then bought real estate and transferred it into a trust titled “POKE-A-BOTTOM.” (No, I didn’t make that up.) Then they were facing foreclosure, so they sent fake tax returns and frivolous documents to their bank. (In all seriousness, lying on a loan document can be a federal felony.) “The documents included fake tax forms and a “Bonded Promissory Note” for $10,000,000, along with instructions that the financial institution should use the document to pay off their $266,000 mortgage and keep the remaining funds.” Somehow the bank decided that wasn’t a good idea. I imagine that the RV and gold coins purchased by the couple with some of the proceeds will be used to pay back the United States Treasury.

The couple will have plenty of time to think of non-idiotic behaviors they can do in the future. There wasn’t anything idiotic about their sentencing for one count each of Conspiracy to Defraud the United States and two counts each of False Claims Against the United States: Mark Garcia received 30 months at ClubFed; his wife, Patricia McQuarry, received 40 months.

From Owning a Party Mansion to Partying at ClubFed

Sunday, September 14th, 2014

Claude Verbal II wasn’t the most well liked owner of a home in North Raleigh, North Carolina. It seems that the 15,000 square foot mansion wasn’t used as a home; rather, it was a place to PARTY! To be fair, the parties appear to have been operated by Mr. Verbal’s ex-wife, Pamela Verbal. The local HOA probably has nothing to worry about as far as any additional parties. Besides an injunction issued by a local court, Mr. Verbal will need to sell the mansion (if it hasn’t already been sold).

You see, Mr. Verbal pleaded guilty earlier this year to a $6,460,962 tax and health care fraud scheme. He was sentenced last week to 135 months (11 years and 3 months) at ClubFed along with full restitution for one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States, one count of aiding and assisting the preparation of false tax returns, one count of healthcare fraud, and one count of money laundering.

In the tax fraud scheme, Mr. Verbal owned a tax preparation franchise with ten locations in North Carolina. Mr. Verbal and his employees offered customers a unique bonus system: If the return was falsified and the client paid cash, he would get a much larger refund. Mr. Verbal and his employees utilized familiar methods: fake dependents and phony credits. Mr. Verbal bought stolen identities so his scheme could continue.

It’s how the scheme was uncovered that makes this quite interesting. From the DOJ press release:

In November 2010, one of Verbal’s employees informed a U.S. probation officer of the fraudulent practices at NBT’s location on Fayetteville Street. The probation officer informed Verbal of this fraud and he falsely denied knowledge of it. Afterward, Verbal took steps to keep the profitable Fayetteville Street location open and to continue operating as usual, but to also further distance himself from the fraudulent practices. In order to do this, Verbal transferred the electronic filing privileges for that NBT branch to a nominee. Verbal and others jointly persuaded a relative of Verbal who allowed Verbal to use their name to apply for new electronic filing privileges for the Fayetteville Street location. In exchange, Verbal and his wife paid the relative $10,000, and the relative had no role in operating NBT, no professional tax experience and no knowledge of the fraud that was occurring at NBT.

But that’s not all. Besides owning a tax preparation firm, Mr. Verbal owned a Medicaid health provider in North Carolina. Mr. Verbal engaged in healthcare fraud, including changing diagnosis codes, inflating the number of clients treated, billing for services not rendered, and faking assessments.

From both schemes, Mr. Verbal used the proceeds to buy luxury goods and possessions, such as his party house in North Raleigh. Many of the items acquired by Mr. Verbal were seized during the investigation, including nearly $766,000 in cash and a 7-carat diamond ring.

As a reminder to anyone who is offered the chance to get a larger refund by paying in cash and having phony items added to his or her tax return: Don’t do it! If it sounds too good to be true it probably is. Not only is knowingly participating in such activities a crime, sooner or later you could get a “Dear Soon to be Audited Taxpayer” letter from the IRS.

It Never Works, But They Keep Doing It

Sunday, September 14th, 2014

“It amazes me that people who withhold payroll taxes and don’t remit them to the IRS can get away with it.” That’s what my friend, Scott Harker, EA, said to me this morning. Yet time and again I read stories where someone decides to abscond with payroll taxes meant for the IRS. It only works until you get caught, and you’re almost always caught.

Take William Danielczyk, Jr., of Oakton, Virginia. If that name rings a bell, it’s because you remember that Mr. Danielczyk was previously sent to ClubFed for two years for illegally funneling just under $200,000 to Hillary Clinton’s political campaigns back in 2006 and 2008. (Mrs. Clinton had no knowledge of the illegal campaign contributions.) When he was sentenced he remarked, “I’ve always tried to lead by example, and I obviously didn’t do that here.”

It turns out that the campaign finance crimes were small in dollars in comparison to his payroll tax crimes. From mid-2009 through 2011, Mr. Danielczyk didn’t send $2,232,781 to the IRS from employee tax withholdings. He also didn’t send employees’ contributions to 401(k) retirement plans to the custodians; that loss was $186,263. Even after he was indicted for the campaign finance law violations he continued with this scheme! That’s chutzpah.

At least the money went to some good purchases. From the Department of Justice press release:

According to court records, instead of paying Innovative’s employment taxes and pension plan contributions, Danielczyk made a variety of purchases from company accounts. Those purchases included $505,871 for the use of an executive suite in the FedEx Field football stadium in Landover, Maryland, along with $40,000 to sponsor the Virginia Gold Cup, a series of Steeple Chase horse races held in northern Virginia.

Mr. Danielczyk was sentenced to eighteen months at ClubFed, three years of supervised release, and must make restitution of $1.6 million to the IRS.

A hint to anyone who wants to try robbing from payroll withholding: Don’t do it! The IRS investigates 100% of these violations. And it’s a certainty that such malefactions will be discovered–sooner or later (likely sooner) someone will be claiming the withheld payroll tax and the IRS won’t match it (as you took it).

If you’re an employer, this is a reminder that you should use EFTPS to verify that your payroll tax withholding has made it to the IRS. If you use employee leasing (aka PEOs), you have to find another method to verify the withholdings but you should do so. Paying payroll tax once is bad enough; paying it twice is really bad.

This Won’t Help Confidence in the IRS

Wednesday, September 3rd, 2014

From South Florida comes a story of one IRS employee who allegedly liked to help taxpayers…just in the wrong way. Charles Corbitt worked for the IRS in West Palm Beach, Florida. He was charged with wire fraud today and is looking at 20 years at ClubFed if found guilty. He’s accused of “helping” taxpayers prepare returns for 2009 through 2012 and making sure they included residential energy credits. There’s just one issue supposedly with those returns (I’m sure you’re ahead of me): Those taxpayers didn’t qualify for residential energy credits. Oops.

Mr. Corbitt allegedly took part of the refund as his fee for preparing the returns. His fee was based on the size of the refund (according to the indictment); that’s a violation of ethics rules. He also allegedly inflated other itemized deductions.

As I said in the headline, the IRS desperately needs some good news…but there hasn’t been much this year.

Tax Preparers Behaving Badly

Sunday, August 24th, 2014

There’s a common thread among these tax professionals: You’ll be getting a refund. That sounds good until you realize that you really shouldn’t have, and that you will likely get in trouble later.

Our first preparer might be saying, “Well, I did get two returns correct.” Unfortunately, the IRS and the US Department of Justice allege he get 74 others wrong. The DOJ asked a federal court to bar Ernice Joseph and his Miami tax preparation firms, Ebenezer Tax Services Inc and Primo Tax Service Inc, from preparing federal returns for others. Why? Here’s what the DOJ states:

The complaint alleges that Joseph and his businesses prepared returns that unlawfully claim the Earned Income Tax Credit by reporting fictitious businesses or business income on clients’ Schedule C – Profit or Loss From Business. Joseph and his businesses prepare returns that claim education and other credits to which the taxpayers are not entitled in order to overstate their refunds. According to the complaint, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) examined 76 returns prepared by Joseph and/or Ebenezer Tax Services and found that 74 contained a deficiency. The complaint alleges that, altogether, Joseph and Ebenezer Tax Service’s activities may have caused more than $20 million in loss to the U.S. Treasury. In addition, the complaint alleges that the revenue lost from Primo Tax Service’s activities could exceed $25 million.

Our next preparer is one step further along than Mr. Joseph. William Naes of St. Charles, Missouri, was permanently barred from preparing returns for others. Why? Well, things were too good to be true:

The government alleged that Naes prepared returns that fraudulently claimed tax deductions for his customers, including bogus deductions for charitable contributions and unreimbursed employee business expenses. According to the complaint, Naes also fabricated business expenses on Schedules C-Profit or Loss From Business, concocted a fake business for at least one customer and failed to properly identify himself as the paid preparer on many of the returns he prepared.

Neither Mr. Joseph nor Mr. Naes appear to be under criminal indictment; our other two preparers weren’t so lucky. Julius Williams owned and ran his tax preparation business in College Park, Maryland. He catered to temporary workers from Jamaica. His clients got a great deal: Phony Schedule C businesses, phony deductions, phony Earned Income tax credits, and phony education credits led to real refunds. Mr. Williams did one nasty thing to those clients: He stole those ex-clients’ identities to help his current clients. After all, they were back in Jamaica, unlikely to file another US tax return, so why waste a good identity? Finally, Mr. Williams cheated on his own taxes. He pleaded guilty and must make restitution of $1 million; he’s also looking at a term at ClubFed.

Our final Bozo preparer is Daniel Jones of Fredericksburg, Virginia. Mr. Jones operated a business called Tax Doctor Plus. I use the past tense because Mr. Jones will be heading to ClubFed for the next 37 months. He did have a lot of satisfied clients: he used phony tax credits, phony Schedule C’s, phony Schedule A expenses, and phony W-2s to increase his clients’ refunds. He also falsely claimed to be a CPA.

Some common sense applies when you’re reviewing your tax return. First, always review it–don’t just sign it. And if it shows you worked at a business you didn’t or you have a credit for college education expenses when you attended college twenty years ago, there’s a problem. Remember, if it sounds too good to be true it probably is.

A Golden Scheme Leads to ClubFed

Sunday, August 17th, 2014

If there’s one phrase I’ve used over and over on this blog, it’s if it sounds too good to be true it probably is. But greed is a powerful motivating force. For example, consider Yamashita’s gold.

Yamashita’s gold is the supposed booty that Japan accumulated during World War II in the Philippine Islands. Though it’s unclear whether or not this gold treasure really existed, the legend and the hunting for it continue to today.

For a con man, Yamashita’s gold represents an opportunity. Freeman Carl “Buck” Reed told investors he found it (and had also found “gold certificates” worth millions). Mr. Reed raised $1.3 million to get the gold buried in the Philippines. Instead of treasure hunting, the $1.3 million was used for maintaining Mr. Reed’s “facade of wealth.”

Mr. Reed also didn’t believe in filing tax returns. When you have income, that’s a felony. Combined with the fraud, that’s multiple felonies. Mr. Reed was convicted of tax fraud and then pled guilty to the gold fraud. He was sentenced to 87 months at ClubFed (more than 7 years).

Pop Goes the Tax Fraud

Sunday, July 6th, 2014

Here’s a potpourri of tax fraud to end your holiday weekend. First, we head to Albany, New York, where former rapper “Prime Minister Pete Nice” (aka Peter Nash) didn’t like paying state income taxes. There’s a problem with that: You don’t get a choice as to whether or not you do so. The Albany County District Attorney prosecuted Mr. Nash for not filing his 2009-2011 New York tax returns; he pled guilty to a misdemeanor charge of failing to file a tax return. He’ll be sentenced next month. It’s also likely that the IRS will call on him; he hasn’t filed his federal returns.

Francisco R. Legaspi was found guilty of tax fraud back in 1993. He was never sentenced for his crime; he fled to Canada. Mr. Legaspi decided to post on Facebook. Yes, the authorities read Facebook. The Bureau of Diplomatic Security found Mr. Legaspi. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police arrested him; he has been extradited back to the United States. He’s been arrested for failing to appear for his sentencing. And, yes, he still will be sentenced for the original tax fraud conviction.

Finally, Charles Loewen will be spending 37 months at ClubFed. The former NFL player (he played for the San Diego Chargers from 1980-1984) was sentenced last week for filing a false income tax refund claim. Mr. Loewen created his own documentation (which was phony) in attempting to obtain a $2.4 million refund. He also filed tax returns stating he had no income when his business did have income.

Another Example of a Regulated Preparer Committing Tax Crimes

Monday, June 9th, 2014

Yet another example of a regulated preparer committing tax crimes emerged this past week out of Ohio. Larry Couchot is a CPA in Ohio. He’s president and an owner of an accounting firm. Mr. Couchot also may be heading to ClubFed. Here’s what the Department of Justice noted:

According to documents filed with the court, during the period 2006 through 2010, Couchot was aware that these individuals used a substantial amount of company funds to pay for personal expenses, including payments for their personal cars, car insurance, country club dues, personal credit card charges and their individual income tax liabilities. Couchot also admitted that he was aware that one individual used company funds to pay for other personal expenses, including lawn services, repairs and maintenance to personal residences, granite counter tops and TV and audio systems.

One of the rules in tax is that if a preparer has personal knowledge of something, it must go on a tax return. We, too, sign the return under penalty of perjury. For example, if I know that you included $5,000 of granite countertops for your residence in “supplies,” it must be removed as a business expense. That’s what Mr. Couchot didn’t do. He’ll face sentencing later this year.

No, Fido & Lulu Can’t Own Your Business

Sunday, June 1st, 2014

Sometimes you read a story and wonder if it’s really true. Such was the case when I read this DOJ press release on Matthew and Sandra Zuckerman.

It starts like many cases: The Zuckermans didn’t like filing and paying taxes, so in 1986 they stopped filing. This continued for at least 24 years. If you don’t do anything that gets yourself well known, and stay in the shadows, it is possible (but still quite illegal) to not file and pay income taxes. Mr. Zuckerman, though was very successful.

He formed a corporation titled Silicon Valley New Issues that specialized in ‘reverse IPOs.’ (An IPO is an initial public offering of stock to the public. A reverse IPO is where a company purchases an already public shell company so that it can become a public company.) Mr. Zuckerman formed an interlocking web of businesses and trusts so that his income wouldn’t be traceable to the IRS. His personal wealth was quite large, with a mansion in Woody Creek, Colorado, and another $1.8 million home in Toluca Lake, California.

It is one of those companies, Hyperpanel University, Inc., which drew my attention to this case. All corporations have to have a Board of Directors. That board handles various business items of the corporation. Now, in a tightly controlled corporation you might just have one board member–yourself. But Mr. Zuckerman elected a strategy that I haven’t seen before (and I doubt I’ll see again): He named his pets as board members. A helpful hint to anyone who is contemplating such a move: Board members do need to be human beings. (Mr. Zuckerman’s dog and cat are no longer board members of Hyperpanel.)

In the end, all of the maneuvering just delayed the inevitable. Mr. Zuckerman pleaded guilty to one county of tax evasion earlier this year; last week, his wife, Sandra, pled guilty to one county of willful failure to pay income tax. They’ll be sentenced later this year. There’s no word on Fido and Lulu being charged.

Punt Blocked; National Audit Defense Network Heading to ClubFed

Tuesday, May 27th, 2014

Back in 2000, a company made the following boast on the Internet:

Oryan Management has developed a simple, “Turn-Key” method for you, the ordinary taxpayer to receive these Tax Credits and Deductions while keeping your costs low. Depending on how you pay your taxes, you could reduce your next quarterly payment by more than your out-of-pocket expenses for the year.

In addition to offering positive cash flow and business stability, Oryan assures your peace of mind by providing Pre-Paid Audit Protection on your tax return.

Wow, that sounds good. The tax credit was for modifications made for the Americans With Disabilities Act. Of course, like most credits you actually have to make building modifications; it really wasn’t available for everyone without doing that.

The IRS investigated, and the prepaid audit defense was worth exactly what you paid for it.

As I first reported back in 2009,

The government alleges that the scheme combined the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) with tax fraud. The idea of Tax Break 2000 was that you could get a tax credit for making facilities ADA compliant. However, the government alleges that Mr. Prokop and two individuals from Las Vegas conspired to defraud the US, committed tax fraud, and aided in preparing false tax returns.

Well, four years later and the trial has ended here in Las Vegas. The three indicted men, Alan Rodrigues, Weston Coolidge, and former NFL punter Joseph Prokop, were found guilty earlier today. Rodrigues and Coolidge were found guilty on 20 felony counts; Prokop was found guilty on 18 of 20 counts. Appeals of the verdict are expected.